H&H’s Hagen Europeans rider of the day: Nanna Skodborg Merrald – ‘It felt amazing’

  • Nanna Skodborg Merrald might be a name you recognise, as the 27-year-old Danish rider has only recently returned from the Tokyo Olympic Games, where she put in a great performance with Blue Hors Zack.

    And today at the FEI European Dressage Championships, she put up yet another great performance for her team, only this time it was aboard Atterupgaards Orthilia. This is another name you might recognise, as the 16-year-old mare was formerly competed by Britain’s Fiona Bigwood, before doing a stint with Agnete Kirk Thinggaard and then finding her way to Nanna.

    “Of course it takes a little bit time to get to know each other when you take over the ride on a horse produced by someone else, and I’ve only had ‘Tillie’ for less than a year,” explains Nanna who rides for Tillie’s owners, the Blue Hors Stud. “But even at the first competitions I did with her, she was lovely – of course I didn’t find all of the buttons that she had straight away, but now I think I have found more and more and so I am able to get more expression from her without any tension, which is what we mostly work on at home.”

    Nanna and Tilly really impressed the judges, scoring an impressive 77.67%, which is enough to put them into second place after the first day of competition.

    “It felt amazing today – I think it was the best grand prix I’ve ever had with her,” smiles Nanna. “She was just so ready and listened to everything I told her. I think I did all I could and that’s the highest score I’ve ever had at grand prix level as my previous best was around 75%. I couldn’t ask for more and I’m really excited.”

    When asked about the highlights of their test, Nanna explains today’s performance was maybe slightly different to their usual.

    “Normally our highlights are always the piaffe and passage – I think in the first two piaffes she got a little bit slow and was then moving her head a little too much,” she explains. “But otherwise, I think the main highlight was that there were no mistakes – it was a high level all the way around.”

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